Microsoft, Intel Team on Portable Video Players

Microsoft announced new software platform designed for Intel's Xscale Portable Video Players.

Aiming to prove that one-trick-devices still have a place in the world of handheld computing, Intel and Microsoft are working to increase adoption of the portable video player.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, Microsoft announced a new software platform called Media2Go, which is designed specifically for Intels Xscale processor-based Portable Video Players.

Based on Windows CE.Net, the Media2Go platform includes a media player and PC integration software so that customers can manage the content of handheld video players on their PCs.

Officials at both companies said they are working with licensees to develop personal video player products, which are expected to hit the market late this year or early next year.

Samsung Electronics and ViewSonic Corp. both said at CES that they plan to develop video players using Intels designs and Microsofts software. SONICblue Inc. announced plans for a personal video player last fall.

Separately, Sanyo North America Corp. and iRiver announced plans to use the Media2Go platform, but did not say whose reference designs they would use. Microsoft officials said that they are considering partnering with additional personal media player partners other than Intel.

The devices that are planned so far will be small enough to fit in a coat pocket and include video, audio and still-picture capabilities. Intel officials acknowledged that the capabilities are not new, but that they are banking on the idea that some customers want a single function device.

"Theres probably nothing that you couldnt conceptually duplicate on a PDA," said Bryan Peebler, market development manager for Intels Emerging Platform Labs in Hillsboro, Ore. "But this is really pulling the experience together as a personal video experience."

Intel actually has anthropologists on staff who study the way people use technology, and they determined that a personal video player would succeed, Peebler said.

He added that the devices likely would run anywhere from $199 to $999 depending on features such as memory size, screen resolution, streaming video and wireless connectivity capabilities. He expects the average price to be around $299.